Each candidate had many strengths on offer, but in the end, the Menlo Park City School District board opted for experience in choosing former member Jeff Child to fill a vacant board seat Tuesday evening (June 21).
Mr. Child, who chose not to run for re-election when his four-year term ended last year, will fill the remainder of Mark Box's term, which ends December 2012. Mr. Box resigned, effective June 30, to move to Spain.
The short duration of the appointment, a new superintendent who begins his job next month, and the need for someone with deep financial expertise and vision were key factors for the four board members who chose Mr. Child. (Mr. Box didn't participate in the appointment process.)
"Jeff is the best person to hit the ground running," said board member Terry Thygesen.
Board member Joan Lambert, who began serving on the board in December, noted that there's a "steep learning curve" to be navigated when a new member is seated on the board. "I know first-hand how steep that curve is," she said. "I feel that I'm not fully there yet."
Because of all the pressing issues facing the district, she said, Mr. Child would be the best choice because of his prior experience, among other strong qualifications.
Board president Maria Hilton and member Laura Rich echoed their colleagues' sentiments. They also were unanimous in their views that the other three applicants have much to offer, and in expressing hope that they would remain involved in the district.
Ana Uribe Ruiz, who ran for a seat last November, was among the applicants for the position. A Menlo Park resident for only two years, her involvement in the district has been limited.
Pam Larkin, a nine-year member of the district's Strategic Planning Committee who has chaired and co-chaired the Encinal Site Council for the last two years, also applied for the seat, as did Ivan Montoya, who served on the Oak Knoll Site Council from 2003 to 2009, chairing the group during his final two years.